The NCSL Blog


By Mark Wolf

If you're raising a toast this holiday season, what's in your glass is a good indication of how you voted.

Reid Wilson speaks to NCSL Capitol Forum session“As it turns out, the darker your booze, the more likely you are to vote Republican,” Reid Wilson, who covers state politics for The Hill, told a session during the NCSL Capitol Forum in Washington, D.C.

Citing industry surveys, Wilson said Republicans favor brands such as Makers Mark and Jim Beam while Democrats’ choices run to lighter colored spirits.

Wilson referenced a major television event last summer to illustrate the nation’s red/blue cultural divide. A map showing TV viewing patterns for the night nearly mirrored the 2016 presidential election map with a large red swatch of viewers across the middle of the nation and a much smaller blue ring around on the coasts. The show? The season premiere of “Duck Dynasty.”

The fun facts played into Wilson’s analysis of the 2016 election.

“Hillary Clinton focused on the big cities. Among the largest counties in America, Clinton beat what Barack Obama had four years ago but Donald Trump did so much better everywhere else,” Wilson said.“The Obama coalition either stayed home or voted for a third party.”

In Wayne County, Mich., where Detroit is located, 78,000 people who voted for Obama in 2012 stayed home and Trump won the state by 10,000 votes, Wilson said. Green Party candidate Jill Stein won 51,000 votes.

“In places where the Clinton camp didn't show up, turnout went down,” he said.

Speaking to his audience of state legislators, Wilson said, “What you do is what drives the national conversation.

"Where did welfare reform come from in the 1990s? It came from the states, it came from Republican governors in the midwest. Where is marijuana reform coming from? It's coming from the states. Where is tax reform going to come from? Where are the next big ideas on every avenue of public policy?

"I just wrote something the other day about Republican efforts to transform labor laws in a number of the states, in Iowa, in Kentucky, in Missouri and New Hampshire and there is going to be a counter to that in a number of Democratic states like California and Oregon where you're going to see prevailing wage pushes and minimum wage increases.”

Mark Wolf is the editor of the NCSL Blog.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.